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By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

We are beginning to do the last-minute, mad-dash preparations for this year’s NSSEA School Equipment Show in Phoenix.  The planning for this event actually began for us the month after last year’s show.  We met with our whole sales team and talked through the 2009 show in terms of what we thought went well, what products showed well, and what we thought we should do differently the following year.

At that time we decided to commit to the same amount of floor space as we have for the past several years, and made some early decisions as to what we might want to show again in 2010 and what kinds of new products we might want to highlight.  Then we set that whole planning process aside for a few months.

In midsummer, we pulled out those early plans, dusted them off and started laying out our prospective booth and placing furniture in it.  In early September, I thought we were solid with the furniture we would show.  Then, when our sales team met later in September, we made some changes to show some new and different products.  The plan actually changed quite a bit!

The result is that this year, in addition to showing some old standby products that will have a “freshened” look, we will be showing several products we have never shown before.  We will even show a product category that we have been building for a few schools that people would not normally associate with Fleetwood Group furniture.

And that is part of the fun of this show!  Since over 30 percent of what we build each year falls into the category of “specials”, we are always creating ways to meet unique needs of our customers, so we always have something new to show.  All the manufacturers will be doing the same kinds of things, trying to show what they are capable of, and what kinds of creative solutions they have brought to market or are about to.  And, of course, relationships are renewed with old industry friends, and new ones are forged… a dynamic that is more important in this business than in any other I have been a part of.

Rumor has it that a number of manufacturers are sitting out the show this year, and many dealers are attending with fewer of their team members.  We are hopeful that people will rally around this show and make it a worthwhile event for all.  The event needs a certain critical mass to be viable, and even in tough times an event like this one is a kind of crossroads where commerce is centered, and being there is important in and of itself.  Like so many other things in life, this show is probably a “use it or lose it” event.  Let’s support it!

See you in Phoenix!

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A new report called Time to Act-An Agenda for Advancing Adolescent Literacy for College and Career Success, released by the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, has many experts in education policy, academia, and philanthropy, calling for a revamping of the way the nation approaches adolescent literacy.

 The panel of experts mentions that the reading and writing skills of adolescents between the grades 4-12 are lacking tremendously. The council worked on the report for five years, and is asking school leaders to use the analyzed data to help them truly assess where the disconnect in adolescent reading and writing is occurring.

The council also called on school leaders to hire teachers who have the skills needed to teach literacy across all subjects and to help teachers build on those skills.

The experts also mention that school leaders should set higher writing and reading standards, build statewide data systems to inform all literacy instruction, and push for the infusion of adolescent-literacy training in state teacher-certification programs and in professional development.

The council also released five separate companion reports that focus on specific issues in adolescent literacy. The reports include: Reading in Disciplines, Adolescent Literacy in Out-of-School Time, Measure for Measure, Adolescent Literacy Programs, and Adolescent Literacy Textbooks.

For more information about the report visit: http://carnegie.org/literacy/tta/.

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